“And 17 to go for a touchdown” [70 Years After Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

The final week in Nuremberg in March, 1946, belonged to the Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany (1938-1945), Joachim von Ribbentrop. On the 29th, von Ribbentrop continued with his defense, which Dodd thought “…woefully weak” [p. 273, 3/29/1946]. He objected to the delay of the defendant and the judge agreed as he redirected the lawyer back on track. Dodd’s statement clearly illustrates his ongoing frustration with the lack of progress of the trial.

Goebbels, Frick, Keitel, von Brauchitsch, Raeder and von Ribbentrop in the dock.

“If Your Honor pleases, I am reluctant to interfere in any respect with this examination of this defendant, but my colleagues and I feel that this particular part of the examination is quite immaterial and in any event much too detailed and that we will never get along here. If counsel would abide by the instruction of the Court given this morning, we could move along much more directly and much more quickly” [http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/03-29-46.asp#ribbentrop2, accessed 3/25/2016]. It can be presumed that Dodd was not alone in his desire to increase the pace at which the trial was progressing.

Portion of letter, 4/1/1946

Portion of letter, 4/1/1946

And yet, as April rolled in, Dodd found even the Allied prosecutors dragging out the proceedings. He believed Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe turned his once well thought out cross examination of Ribbentrop into a “… dull–too detailed, quite repetitive [mess]” just as he did with Göring the week before [p. 276, 4/01/1946]. On April 2nd, the cross-examinations of Ribbentrop were concluded, but only after Amen stirred up a disaster. Dodd reported that Amen, was again misbehaving.

Portion of letter, 4/3/1946

Portion of letter, 4/3/1946

He was “impossible and a real faker, and this myth of the great prosecutor is just about exploded” [p. 278, 4/03/1946].  Even after everything that had occurred throughout the week, Dodd was able to maintain a sense of humor as he wrote to Grace, “Ribbentrop down–Keitel to go.  And 17 to go for a touchdown.” [p. 278, 4/3/1946].

–Owen Doremus and Betsy Pittman

[Owen Doremus, a junior at Edwin O. Smith High School, is supporting this blog series with research and writing as part of an independent study.]

The majority of the letters from Tom Dodd to his wife Grace have been published and can be found in Letters from Nuremberg, My father’s narrative of a quest for justice. Senator Christopher J. Dodd with Lary Bloom. New York: Crown Publishing, 2007.

Images available in Thomas J. Dodd Papers.

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